Hearing the words that your dog will never walk again is a surreal experience that most of us don’t want to relive. That’s why I was impressed when a pet owner wanted to share the story about the day her dog became paralyzed. Her goal is to tell people about the amazing life her disabled dog is living today and the honest details of how they got to that point.
It all started when pet mom, Kacey, woke up one night to find Penny, her little Pug, suddenly paralyzed. One minute the dog was healthy and the next, she was unable to move her back legs.
Kacey shared that she had “zero information” about caring for a handicapped dog and no one she knew had any experience to help her. So, she started following my blog, which at the time was called Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog. The information she found, encouraged her to overcome many of the obstacles she and Penny faced.
The amazing normal life a disabled dog is living, told by her pet mom Kacey
I adopted Penny Halloween 2013. She had been left at a shelter overnight, so they had no history, but her injuries implied she was likely hit by a car. She had a rib that stuck out, and deep wounds that were sewn up by someone who clearly had no medical experience.
I had her 1.5 years before she became paralyzed.
At 4:00am an emergency vet gave me the news that Penny had a herniated disc, with a large hemorrhage. It was likely due to an old injury sustained from her previous trauma and it had been slowly progressing.
I was told they needed a quick decision; euthanasia, or $4000 for surgery. I was also told that even with surgery, because of the area and progression of her injury, Penny would never walk again.
My 3-year-old dog, that loved nothing more than to run, would never walk again.
I was assured that she would live with no pain and could have good quality of life. So, with that assurance, the only choice I could make, was surgery.
I wouldn’t let my dog die, simply because she couldn’t walk.
Recovery to a new normal life
I would be lying if I said I didn’t go through a period, where I mourned the dog she once was. Yes, she was alive, but I mourned the part of her that was gone. I mourned what she could once do, what she loved to do.
But she didn’t.
Penny went back to living life as if nothing had happened. It’s as if she had no idea her legs didn’t work. She acclimated to her new life instantly. The dog that could get into cabinets and drag the contents down the hall and maneuver things far out of her reach; still could do all of these things.
Penny has a cart for walks, but she loves to drag herself in the grass, and when she sees a dog, she wants to meet them. I’ve watched my Dad, run full speed and not be able to catch her. The dog that once, loved nothing more than to run, still does. Just in a different way.
My dog doesn’t notice her disability. Her personality did not change. Not walking doesn’t get her down and it doesn’t stop her from getting into the same mischief. Animals really do adapt so much better than humans.
When I tell people, I have a paralyzed dog, many responses are, “that’s so sad”. I hate that, because isn’t sad. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Penny is genuinely happy, all of the time.
A note about rescue groups
I live in a condo on the 2nd & 3rd floors and I don’t have a fenced in yard. Because of that, there are rescue groups in my city, that would never adopt to me. Not an able-bodied dog, let alone a paralyzed one. Which is really sad.
I’ve cared for a paralyzed dog for more than 6 years now and I can say it’s not really that difficult. It’s just normal life to us. I think more rescues need to open up their criteria, especially for special needs dogs, that are already difficult to adopt.
I’ve walked Penny in her wheelchair and heard more than one person tell me “I’m a saint”. I’m not. I didn’t adopt her paralyzed. And despite the money and heartache, I’m glad things happened the way they did. If she was paralyzed before her adoption, she probably wouldn’t be mine.
Dogs teach us lessons
Penny really has made me a better person. When I feel sorry for myself, I just look at her and remember all she has been through. Being hit by a car, injuries sewn up with no anesthesia, left tied up outside a shelter, the pain she endured with a herniated disc, and now living life paralyzed. She has never once felt sorry for herself, or expressed any ounce of sadness over the hand she was dealt.
Our dogs teach us many things and Penny has taught me a lot. I’m a fierce animal and dog lover, but I didn’t adopt a paralyzed dog. I got one. And my outlook has definitely changed, in every way.
I want people to know that paralyzed dogs can lead amazing normal lives. Their care and dealing with a wheelchair can seem overwhelming, but it really isn’t.
If I could go back, adopting my able-bodied, spunky, dog, and know what the future held, I would absolutely 100% do it again. Open your heart to a paralyzed dog. I can promise, you will not regret it. I cannot imagine my life without Penny.
Do you have a story to share?
I love when pet owners share their story about life with a disabled dog. If you’d like to your story, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to contact you.
Read more about the topics covered in this story
Intervertebral Disc Disease: Understanding the Condition
Help When You Can’t Afford Your Dog’s Vet Bill
Dog Diapers: How To Choose The Right Product
Hi Sharon, I found your blog and would love to chat. I have a disabled French bulldog – a similar story to Penny and Kacey. I have had a huge issue finding resources and would love to ask some questions. Particularly for handicapped dogs in apartment buildings!
I have my dog go to the bathroom in the bathtub – and wanted to discuss with you or Kacey if that’s something you do.
Would love to have more resources! Thank you!
This site is full of resources about life with a wheelchair bound dog. Is there a specific product you need?
And in answer to your question about using the bathtub to express your dog, it is common along with expressing over the toilet.
I have an 11 year old Australian shepherd I could tell you her story